Global Impact, Plastic Pollution, Sustainable News

America is Failing at Plastic Recycling

Jun 10, 2022
Robert Koenen
Contributing Author
Robert Koenen
Contributing Author
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America is a leader. We’re leading the way in producing plastic, exporting plastic, and NOT recycling plastic… what an honor. 

For too long, we’ve been passing the blame. Plastic pollution is not the byproduct of other countries. 

A recent 2021 study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows that the U.S. generates more plastic waste than any other country in the world. Yes, even more than China or India. Even worse than that, in 2021 the EPA reported that U.S. recycling rates have dropped almost 50%, according to Reuters. Recycling for plastic has declined from 8.7% to less than 6%. We know that 8.7% is terrible to begin with, but the very fact that 95% of plastic is NOT recycled is frankly, shameful. Half of that trash is single-use plastic bottles, with Coke, Pepsico and Nestle named as the top polluters worldwide.

Despite these terrible results, the spin-masters for the petrochemical industry, otherwise known as “Big Soda”, “Big Oil”, and “Big Plastic” continue to push recycling as the solution. They hire high-powered lobbyists who print misleading works and even co-opt some of our most trusted scientists to back their rhetoric. 

Coca-Cola recently released an ad featuring Bill Nye, The Science Guy that’s romanticizing an unrealistic version of recycling systems — once again pushing their agenda.

 

Right now, 75% of plastic waste goes into landfills while 15% is incinerated, adding even more pollution to the tons that end up in our oceans. Over the next 700 years, all plastic in the ocean will break down, unless it is eaten by marine life and slowly starves out our aquatic animals. There is some evidence that microplastics are now ingested by every fish in the ocean; now part of our food chain.

And we keep using more. Per capita, plastic waste went from 60 pounds per year in 1980 to 218 pounds in 2018.  The plastic industry predicts a 300% increase in plastic production over the next five years and is ramping up its production facilities. 

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Here's what they don't want you to know: Plastic recycling is a myth. 

They know it, but propagating the myth of recycling allows them to keep their production facilities pumping out more plastic. Their profit plan relies on plastic consumption and still "Recycling does not work, it never will work and no amount of false advertising will change that", said Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator.

Compounding the issue of recycling is the enormous carbon footprint and pollution caused by the extraction and molding of plastic. Oil drilling and blow molding use many chemicals that are harsh on your body and our planet. The petrochemical industry exacerbates the plastic pollution crisis and pushes the narrative that recycling can solve the issue, but it won’t.

So please refill, reuse and stop using single-use plastic altogether. If you need water on-the-go and don’t have your reusable, grab a Boxed Water™. At least the carton is made from 92% renewable materials like paper and tree pulp for its caps — instead of plastic bottles and aluminum cans, which are made from 0% renewable resources. 92% is a much better grade to bring home to mother nature.

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